Handbook of Chemical Health and Safety. Alaimo RJ, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2001 Mar; :81-101
Exposure to toxic materials always entails some level of risk. This risk reflects both the inherent toxicity of substance and the frequency, duration. and severity of exposure. Risk management refers to the process of assessing and, if necessary, reducing exposure and therefore risk for exposed individuals. An exposure assessment is an essential component of risk management for determining a course of action. The actual measurement of current exposures to gases, vapors, or particulates may not be required, as there are qualitative and semiquantitative exposure assessments. It is often the case, however, that measurements are necessary for initial or baseline evaluations. Furthermore, periodic sampling and occasional audits are necessary for validating earlier assessments and for evaluating exposure trends in the work environment. Consequently, an industrial hygienist is often faced with questions regarding the collection, analysis, interpretation, and management of occupational exposure data. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest appropriate questions and provide reasonable answers regarding the collection and management of occupational exposure data. Chapter 16 covers data analysis and interpretation. Both chapters presume some familiarity with exposure limits and exposure-measuring instrumentation. Furthermore, quantitative exposure assessment is only one component of a "comprehensive exposure assessment" program. Readers should consult the reading list at the end of this chapter for more information regarding comprehensive exposure-assessment programs and broader discussions regarding industrial hygiene, instrumentation, and statistics. An additional purpose of this chapter is to provide guidance for developing what could be called a philosophy for occupational exposure management. Because exposure-monitoring programs must be designed and tailored for a wide variety of work environments, it is critical that we first adopt reasonably consistent interpretations of the occupational exposure limits arid agree on the goal of an effective exposure-monitoring program.